(WFMJ-TV) Pennsylvania's new laws that just took effect in January, will come into play when a mother accused of a severe case of child abuse comes to trial.
Mary Rader, and her parents Dennis and Deana Beighley, who live together in a home in Greenville could receive as much as 20 years in prison if they are found guilty of aggravated assault and other criminal charges.
Police reports state Rader's seven year old son weighed about 25 pounds and was described as a human skeleton, by doctors.
Attorney Matthew Mangino said state lawmakers toughened Pennsylvania's laws after former Penn State University football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was convicted of abusing 10 boys. In the past teachers, coaches and others were not included in the definition of child abuser. Laws were also expanded to include acts of omission.
"So, if you are in a home where you know a child is being abused and you let that abuse continue, that omission could make you responsible as well," said Mangino.
Although Pennsylvania is one of 10 states without a statute specifically addressing torture, Mangino said the laws have always been a powerful tool that allows the county District Attorney to bring serious charges.
"There are certainly situations where torture wouldn't amount to aggravated assault. In this case, prosecutors are pursuing the most serious charge they can with the most serious penalties that are available," said Mangino.
In addition, people accused of abusing a child can be criminally charged whether or not they intended to harm that child.
The boy has gained significant weight but faces serious hurdles due to the alleged neglect.
A preliminary hearing for Rader and the Beighleys is scheduled for July 30.
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